Women and men are capable of doing the same things. Girls are even outperforming boys in school, particularly in STEM subjects. However, there is a clear disconnect in real life since more men still end up in leadership positions. Even if you remove gender bias, financial status, biological clock, and other limitations, women are still likely to be outnumbered.
This is one of the baffling issues we are wrestling with today. Laura Gervais and I discussed this at length in our podcast and in this blog. I want to share with you some of our insights and pieces of advice. Together, we will look at the reasons behind this phenomenon and the solutions to it.
What is really missing?
If women are capable of doing the same things, what stops us from being where we want to be? Why are we not in more board rooms? Why are there fewer women entrepreneurs? The missing factor in this equation is our ability to say YES to opportunities. It’s not like we can’t do it, it’s more of we are hesitant to do it.
What stops us from saying YES?
If you come to think of it, saying yes is relatively easy especially when it's risk-free. However, the most crucial YESes are those that involve risks. These are the life-altering opportunities that we need to say yes to. But more often than not we are hindered by the walls of fear and self-doubt.
Fear. We fear rejection. Just thinking about the risk we're about to take and the possibility of being rejected makes us shrink easily. This happens in both big and small decisions. We also fear failure. Hence, it cripples us from saying yes to that first step we need to take to advance. We would rather stay in our comfort zone and “be safe than sorry.“
Part of this is also because we fear being judged. We don't want to come off as ambitious even if there's nothing wrong with being one! We value other people’s opinions too much to the point that it stunts our own progress and advancement.
Self-doubt. This is where the Impostor Syndrome comes in. We feel that we don't deserve to be where we are or in the position we want to be in. So, we don’t say yes. We doubt our own capabilities when we know very well that we can do it. It’s an inner confidence battle we're waging in every time an opportunity presents itself to us.
What will help us say YES?
We all have fears and self-doubt but that doesn't mean we cannot overcome them. There are ways you can say YES to opportunities. You don't have to shy away from them!
Be accountable for your actions. What will you do with your situation? Don't sit and watch if you can do something and make a difference. Advocate for yourself. Take a lead in your situation. Take risks and be comfortable being uncomfortable. Remember that ships are not meant to stay in the harbor. They are meant to conquer the seas and so are you.
Practice saying yes. The more you say yes, the braver you will be. Over time, you will be able to identify opportunities that are worth your time and effort. It doesn't matter how long it will take for you to do it as long as you say yes. The more you take risks, the easier it becomes!
Connect with your tribe. Be with people who will cheer you on. Talk to like-minded individuals who have been there and done that. We all need cheerleaders who will just tell us, “Go for it.” Open up to these people and allow them to look objectively at your situation.
Stop critiquing yourself. We are the harshest judges of ourselves. Focus on your strengths, not your weakness. Leverage what you're good at. Be more conscious of self-doubt and try not to listen to it. Just outright shut it.
Don't fear failure. Ask yourself, “What's the worst thing that's going to happen?“ If it's not a matter of life and death, if you can recover from it, then just go for it! Failure is part of the process and it doesn't go to waste because some of the best lessons come from it. Even the best executives and entrepreneurs didn't get it right the first time.
Say YES more. Seize the opportunities before you. It's better to take risks than to live with regrets. What you want is within your reach if you say yes to the steps that will get you there.
Check out Splash of Colours Episode 1 - Where my Co-Host Laura and I deep dive into the Topic - saying Yes!
Spend less time caught up in the clutter and more focusing on what is truly important.